- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “When the Orlando Magic traded for Gilbert Arenas, many wondered how long it would be until Arenas took the starting point guard position away from Jameer Nelson. Turns out, Nelson’s play is putting that debate to rest. Nelson is quietly putting together the best all-around season of his career, meshing with the Magic newcomers and making few mistakes. He’s averaging eight assists per 36 minutes and posting an assist rate of 37.6 percent, which are both – by far – the best numbers of his career. Nelson’s ability to penetrate, find Dwight Howard, coexist with Hedo Turkoglu and make long-range shots has been valuable to the Magic. He’s playing efficiently and effectively, and despite the backlash he gets from fans, his play is a big reason the Magic are as good as any team in the NBA right now.”
- Improved passing and three-point shooting have sparked the Orlando Magic’s winning streak.
- Not many NBA players think highly of the Magic’s chances of winning a title this season.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel asks an interesting question.
- Orlando has gotten better as of late, but Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post points out that some concerns remain: “Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass are producing in their increased minutes due to Rashard Lewis’ departure, and Howard remains the league’s best big man. The ubiquitous question is if the Magic can cope with Howard in foul trouble, or otherwise unavailable, during a playoff series. The Magic aren’t high on any of the free-agent bigs, so we may not see a resolution immediately, if ever. But Howard’s foul-prone ways–as a lane-clogging defender who has to erase his teammates’ defensive mistakes, and as an offensive player who doesn’t always keep his hands to himself–make this issue a particularly pressing one.”
- Dwight Howard is an untouchable NBA player when it comes to trades.
- Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “Is this version better than the 2008-09 team that reached the Finals? From the looks of it, the answer appears to be a resounding ‘yes.’ When the Magic dealt Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Earl Clark and Gilbert Arenas, the consensus was that Magic general manager Otis Smith had swung for the fences in an effort to catapult the team back into the title chase. And early returns show that he’s crushed it out of the park. The Magic have scored 108.8 points every 100 possessions since the trade, which is about a four-point improvement in offensive efficiency compared to the disbanded 2010-11 squad according to numbers from Hoopdata.com. And surprisingly they’ve sharpened their defensive efforts as well, allowing just 98.5 points every 100 possessions over the past 11 games after surrendering 100.6 points before the deal. The new crew’s 10.3 point efficiency differential outperforms the Eastern Conference champion team’s resume by a full two points.”
- Are the Magic for real when it comes to being a championship contender?